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How to help Afghanistan refugees in Wisconsin

Up to 10,000 refugees expected to come through Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:40 PM CDT
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FORT McCOY, Wis. (AP/WBAY) - Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was at Fort McCoy Wednesday meeting with refugees from Afghanistan and military commanders.

About 1,000 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived at Fort McCoy, and up to 10,000 could do so in the coming weeks, according to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who met separately with officials at the base Wednesday morning.

Fort McCoy is one of three military installations nationwide that’s processing people being evacuated out of Afghanistan since the country fell to the Taliban. State lawmakers said many will eventually be resettled in other states.

Evers promised support to the refugees from the state, and the administration delivered clothing, diapers and other personal items from a partnership of the Department of Military Affairs and the Department of Children and Families.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) says there are a number of ways people can help the refugees and the global response to the crisis in Afghanistan.

  • Donate clothing, personal hygiene products, furniture and other household goods
  • Fund-raising to financially support refugees with rent, clothes, utilities until they start work
  • Volunteer to help refugees with English skills, American customs, homework, and adapting to their community
  • Advocate with neighbors, coworkers, family and friends to support the refugees
  • Connect with refugee service providers if you know about affordable rental housing or family-supporting jobs that are available

While Afghan refugees are still temporarily at Fort McCoy, their permanent homes are still to be determined.

“Typically, because we have been doing this for a very long time there already are established relationships with local landlords in the area where refugees are being resettled,” Bojana Zorić Martinez, the Wisconsin state refugee coordinator for the DCF.

The Afghan refugees are just the latest in the line of global asylum seekers like people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Syria who moved to Wisconsin. Throughout the state, these refugees are helped by national and international resettlement programs, like World Relief, who have local connections for renting apartments, potential employers, or language classes in schools so that refugee children can integrate into their new classes more easily.

“We feel privileged and honored to welcome these people,” the director of World Relief Fox Valley, Tami McLaughlin, said. “We know they are here because of the circumstances that they come from but we also know that they have great opportunity and so much potential to add to our communities.”

The DCF has a list of refugee resettlement agencies and service providers by county. You can contact the Bureau of Refugee Programs at (414) 270-4702 or email dcfrefugee@wisconsin.gov if you have questions about which organization to contact.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WBAY contributed to this report.